Gertrude Stein – A Bold Experimenter
“Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing.”
If I was ever asked who I would like to spend an afternoon with, I would choose Gertrude Stein. After all, she lived in Paris surrounded by all that she loved best – art, music, poetry, food and wine. Her residence at the salon, 27 rue de Fleurus on the Left Bank, was a gathering place for the “new moderns,” the talented young artists who would help define the idea of modernism in literature and art. Imagine what it would be like to experience the conversations of Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Claribel & Etta Cone, James Joyce, Thornton Wilder, in the formative stages of the modernist movement. Her salon was indeed “A Moveable Feast” just as Ernest Hemingway described.
Gertrude Stein had very little use for the narrative, linear and time-orientated conventions of 19th century literature. A self-proclaimed genius, she preferred to experiment in her writing. Her poetry is not easy to read or understand, but there is drama, wit and boldness in her choice of words. Many believe that she was creating portraits with words, much like Picasso was with paints.
To celebrate National Poetry Month, I chose Christian Bérard which is focused on food and eating. I confess, it is easy to stumble over the words, but I found the more I read this poem aloud, the more I appreciated the nuances. Since I have not included the full poem, I would encourage you to explore it at Poetry Foundation, an excellent resource for poetry.
By Gertrude Stein
Eating is her subject.
While eating is her subject.
Where eating is her subject.
Withdraw whether it is eating which is her subject. Literally
while she ate eating is her subject. Afterwards too and in be-
tween. This is an introduction to what she ate.
She ate a pigeon and a soufflé.
That was on one day.
She ate a thin ham and its sauce.
That was on another day.
She ate desserts.
That had been on one day.
She had fish grouse and little cakes that was before that day.
She had breaded veal and grapes that was on that day.
After that she ate every day.
Very little but very good.
She ate very well that day.
What is the difference between steaming and roasting, she
ate it cold because of Saturday.
Remembering potatoes because of preparation for part of
There is a difference in preparation of cray-fish which makes a
change in their fish for instance.
What was it besides bread.
Why is eating her subject.
There are reasons why eating is her subject.